Pros: Price, Sound Quality, Display of Digital Surround
After going for almost 2 years with a Panasonic A100 DVD player and a Yamaha RX-V670 (Dolby Pro-Logic) receiver, I decided it was time to step up to Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound. The difference between regular Pro-Logic and 5.1 is really night and day. My STR-DB840 was purchased at Onecall.com for about $400.
I was a little hesitant to purchase a Sony receiver for one simple reason. Sony makes some excellent high-end equipment, and some sorry low-end equip. The DE line of receivers are known for their noise and lack of power (mainly b/c of using IC chips instead of discrete amps for each channel, like ES and DB series). Sony's ES line has been highly accredited for quality sound and quality craftsmanship. The DB840 is one of Sony's hybrid receivers. It's like a budget "ES" model.
The amplifiers are quiet, clean and powerful. Both DD and DTS surround modes are super realistic. My friends get scared every time they come over to my "theater". Those sounds swirling from rear channel speakers are awesome!
The receiver itself is a very handsome unit. The most used buttons and knobs are visible, while some others are hidden behind a fold-down door. One notable quirk about setup. . you must be at the receiver to set surround parameters (ie. distance from speakers, levels, etc). This means you need another person to sit in the sweet spot and let you know when the "pink noise" is level from all speakers (or use dB meter from Radio Shack). Most receivers have this capability from the remote, but no luck here.
And on to the remote. What a sorry excuse for a modern day remote control. It does not learn functions, but is programmed from Sony. Some of the buttons glow in the dark, but are not otherwise illuminated. Just plan on getting a universal "learning" remote. It will make life much easier!
I have since programmed my Marantz RC 2000 to learn the main functionality of the receiver. I love the blue light that lights up on the front of the receiver when a 5.1 digital bitstream is detected. No more guessing, is it digital or not? Now, even my wife knows when she has selected the correct track on the DVD.
As for the sound quality, I am still impressed. CD is highly accurate with my Boston Acoustics towers. Even the FM tuner is very acceptable, sound quality and sensitivity. I think it has 3 optical and 1 coaxial digital input. I am currently only using 1 optical (from DVD). Of course, newer receivers have up to 7.1 channels of digital sound, but it is very difficult to keep up with technology. The 5.1 format (Dolby Digital and DTS) is sufficient for most people, and the Sony STR-DB840 is an inexpensive way (and high-quality) to get into digital home theater.